Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Stradivinsky will take on seven sprint rivals, including three shippers, in the $200,000 Scotts Highlander Stakes (Can-III) Sunday on the turf at Woodbine.
In addition to the Queen's Plate Sunday, the Highlander is one of three added-money events at Woodbine.
Trained by Malcolm Pierce, Stradivinsky is a perfect in two tries so far in 2007, opening with a romp in the six furlong Jacques Cartier Stakes April 14 over Woodbine’s Polytrack. The 4-year-old Florida-bred gelded son of Stravinsky followed with a handy score in the six furlong turf prep for the Highlander on June 1, when timed in a blistering 1:07 4/5 seconds.
“He’s trained very well, and so far he hasn’t done anything wrong this year,” said Pierce. “He got a trip over the turf course last time out, which is good to have, and he’s come back and had one work, a very good work (five furlongs in :58 4/5 seconds breezing, June 17). I wouldn’t trade horses with anybody.”
Emma-Jayne Wilson, who has been aboard Stradivinsky in his last five outings, retains the mount for the Scotts Highlander.
Last year, after a busy eight-race campaign in Florida, Stradivinsky was shipped to Woodbine to the care of Pierce and promptly won off by himself in a seven furlong allowance test. Pierce then tried to stretch him out in the 1 1/8-mile Ontario Derby Oct. 1, but his charge came home a weary last, over 13 lengths behind Shillelagh Slew.
“That was a bit of a disaster,” recalled Pierce. “He kind of stumbled leaving the gate, grabbed his quarter pretty bad, then tried to get out on the first turn. I’m not saying we wouldn’t try him a little further again, but we may as well stick to where he’s winning at the moment. We might try to stretch him out to a mile on the turf course. I think he’s probably a one-turn horse.”
Among Stradivinsky’s rivals is Edith Dixon’s Smart Enough, who’ll be ridden by Patrick Husbands for trainer John Fisher. In his only start this year, the 4-year-old gelded son of Horse Chestnut flew to a blazing score in the $60,000 Wolf Hill Stakes at Monmouth Park, clocking the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:00 4/5 seconds.
Last year, Smart Enough won five of eight starts, including three minor stakes at Churchill Downs and Monmouth, before completing the season with a runner-up finish in the $285,000 Cherokee Run Breeders’ Cup Handicap.
Another invader who will garner attention is Heros Reward, to be ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Dale Capuano. The 5-year-old has won four of five outings this year, all at five furlongs on the grass, including the $100,000 Baltimore City Turf Sprint at Pimlico on May 19.
Completing the Scotts Highlander line-up are last year’s surprising Highlander winner Marco Be Good, Storm Caller, My Imperial Dancer, The Nth Degree, and Gangster.
The other turf stakes races on Plate day are the $100,000 Singspiel Stakes and the $100,000 Charlie Barley Stakes.
The Singspiel, at 12 furlongs, has attracted a field of 10, including Stronach Stables’ Royal Challenger, last year’s winner of the Breeders’ Stakes, the third jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown; Sam-Son Farm’s French Beret, who won the Toronto Cup last year and just missed in the Breeders’, and Gus Schickedanz’s venerable Last Answer, the field’s leading money winner with over $733,000 in career earnings.
The Charlie Barley, at a flat mile, is a wide-open affair which has drawn a field of 12. The David Cotey-trained pair of Angel of the House and Strike Impact, and Get Rich Quick, conditioned by Pierce, are all expected to receive support.
$200,000 Scotts Highlander Stakees (Can-III, Race 3, 1:25 p.m.), 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Marco Be Good (ON), Justin Stein, 121, 4/1
2. Heros Reward (MD), John R. Velazquez, 117, 6/1
3. Storm Caller (KY), Emile Ramsammy, 115, 15/1
4. Stradivinsky (FL), Emma-Jayne Wilson, 119, 2/1
5. Smart Enough (KY), Patrick Husbands, 115, 7/2
6. My Imperial Dancer (ON), Constant Montpellier, 115, 20/1
7. The Nth Degree (CO), Eurico Rosa Da Silva, 121, 6/1
8. Gangster (KY), Todd Kabel, 115, 10/1